Death no. 1

Come to my very heart, to my dawn,
up to the crowned solitudes.
The dead kingdom is still alive.

Neruda, Canto General, 1950
From: The Heights of Macchu Picchu

Damocles underwent fate as simple suspense. Sitting under only one sword point dangling from its wire, he had to contemplate and await his end.

Meanwhile, two swords hang above my own head, more or less according to that fine definition of a dilemma. The bull charges towards you – avoiding him towards your left, the right horn hits you; trying to evade him to your right side, his left horn impales you.

The first blow came from a thrombosis in the vena porta, the blood supply to the liver being completely interrupted. This problem is ‘solved’ by the heart, with an additional effort it propels blood through otherwise unused veins to the liver.

‘Propel’ is the right word – as a result of this pressure on blood vessels in both stomach and esophagus, to a lesser extent also in other places, these start to widen and are becoming extremely sensitive to spiced food, things with sharp edges like fish bones, nuts and what not. ‘Varicose vein’ is the keyword here. An injury in those places is inoperable. You also get very, very tired after just a little exercise.

Only six months after my attack of thrombosis in the porta vena the doctor found its cause with the mysterious sounding name of ‘JAK 2’, a unpleasant condition of the bone marrow. The second of my bull’s horns…

The marrow overproduces hematocrite, a defect that may result in new thromboses, in my case especially brain hemorrhage, so I fear. A few decades ago, during a ‘war’ with the Executive Board of Delft University, for a few months I carried on with a blood pressure of 200/120. Unhealthy, one might say – my doctor congratulated me, glad to see I had made it into his consulting room.

images (4)

These two swords allow my life expectancy a more or less fixed term.

Not afraid of death I am, I do indeed fear pain. The fear of death seems, as my good friend Ton wrote, a habit of believers and of superstitious people. Thus I scare when this very night a sudden piercing pain began to sing in the thigh. Has the end started?Suddenly I am punished for the life as a would-be hermit in ma douce France – electronically incommunicado, hiding out in la France profonde. Checking what exactly are the signs of a sudden thrombosis, what kind of pain it will generate precisely – I have no method to do this now and I never asked for it here.

A movie revisited on DVD film, in olden days considered in an aesthetic-critical sine ira et studio manner, suddenly becomes quite autobiographical. Greenaway’s The Belly of an Architect now all of a sudden cuts a hole in my pocket.

From my friend Adam I learned that after a thrombosis hit his left calf, he had to lie flat for a long time – the risk of a blood clot suddenly, in a wild Verschiebung nach oben, surging into the brain or into the heart being considerable.

Writing this down, in the hope of reaching the end of this little text in the right condition.


Sierksma, 2.10 / 2015 La Roche


Author: rjsiersk

Sierksma was born in Friesland, a 'county' in the northern part of the Netherlands with its own language which he does not speak and with an obstinate population to which he both belongs and does not belong. A retired Professor of Social Philosophy and Aesthetics, as a Harkness fellow he taught at Rutgers and Berkeley Universities in the USA, and at GUAmsterdam and TUDelft in the Netherlands. In 1991 he was awarded his PhD from Leiden University on the subject of 'Surveillance and Task: Labour Discipline between Utilitarianism and Pragmatism'. His books include Minima Memoria (1993), Lost View (2002 with Jan van Geest), and Litter Scent (2013). He has published poems and articles in Te Elfder Ure, Nynade, Oasis and the Architectural Annual. Half the year he lives in Haarlem, the other half he spends in la France Profonde, living ‘in his own words’ as the house out there was bought with the winnings from his essay Eternal Sin, written for the ECI Essay Prize (1993). In this blog, Sierksma's Sequences, written in English, he is peeping round his own and other people’s perspectives. Not easily satisfied with answers nor with questions, he turns his wry wit to a number of philosophical and historical issues. His aim in writing: to make parts of the world light up in his perspective - not my will, thine! Not being a thief, he has no cook, one wife, some children, one lover and three cats.

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